For the first time in NFL history, two brothers will coach their own teams against each other’s for the Superbowl. John and Jim Harbaugh both have an impressive history of coaching and playing football–two separate careers that can be traced back to their father’s involvement in the game. It seems the sport runs in their blood, and now they are faced against each other in what could arguably be considered the ultimate sibling rivalry–or at least the most watched, seeing as how 111.3 million people tuned in to last year’s superbowl between the Giants and the Patriots. The brotherly show-down, now colloquially being referred to as “The Harbowl,” is sure to be a hit.
They aren’t the only siblings to have either gone head-to-head or collaborated in a huge way. The Harbaugh brothers are among many dynamic pairs who became prominent duos in their fields. Some enjoyed fame, others enjoyed infamy.
Venus and Serina Williams
The Williams’ sisters are fierce competitors on the court. Serena wrote in her memoir, On the Line, that when they were kids, she fought hard to prove she could beat her older sister who was regarded as a tennis prodigy. Yet, even with a rivalry that began in their childhood, the sisters get along fine. According to Jezebel, Serena said that on the court she once told Venus, “We’ll be sisters later.” She explains: ” Right now, we’re competitors, but the moment we shake hands and we’re done with this match, we’re sisters. I’m always happy for Venus, and she’s always happy for me.”
David and Nelson Rockerfeller
When the World Trade Center was merely an idea, the Rockerfeller brothers brought it to fruition 15 years after it was first proposed in 1943. After the Second World War, when America’s new-world order would embody pragmatic capitalism and internationalist outlook the brothers ensured that New York would be the center of the “burgeoning commercial imperium.” After inheriting Standard Oil from their grandfather, John D. Rockerfeller, the brothers controlled an unimaginable amount of wealth and power. Fortunately, they used it well.
Nelson, who was considered the most ambitious of the brothers, purchased an East River site for $8.5 million when New York seemed out of the running as the location on which the Trade Center would be built. The money came from his father, John D. Rockerfeller Jr.
David, regarded as the more determined brother, had been working as an assistant to New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia before joining the international loan division of his family’s bank, Chase, perhaps the most powerful financial institution in the world. It wasn’t long before he understood how to leverage financial resources to achieve larger political and diplomatic ends — and how to leverage those ends, in turn, to amass more riches still.
The World Trade Center is probably the most ambitious project in history, requiring an incredible amount of support and resources from the state. As it rose over the Manhattan skyline, New Yorkers appropriately nicknamed the gargantuan Twin Towers “David,” and “Nelson.”
George and Ira Gershwin
These guys obviously get “Most Musical” in the line-up. When George was 17, he published his first song, “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Have ‘Em, When You Got ‘Em, You Don’t Want ‘Em” while working as a “song plugger” for Tin Pan Alley. He earned $5 for it. Ira’s career in music started a few years after George’s but certainly did not suffer the time difference. By penning the lyrics for the Broadway show Two Little Girls in Blue (1921) under the pseudonym “Arthur Francis,” Ira’s work was well received, and got his foot in the Broadway door.
In 1932, Ira was the first lyricist to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize, for the 1932 musical comedy Of Thee I Sing. George, the younger brother was the composer. Their most noted achievement is probably the Broadway musical, Porgy and Bess. The brothers’ work influenced music for generations to come–enough so that the Library of Congress would name its Prize for Popular Song after the Gershwin brothers. The award recognizes “the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture.”
King John and Richard the Lion Heart
These two were not as close as the siblings previously mentioned. If you think Serena had a lot to live up to growing up with Venus, you don’t even want to imagine what it must have been like for John to live under the shadow of “Couer de Lion.” Richard’s prowess on the battlefield earned him the nick-name of Lion Heart, and made his brother’s severe deficit in that area all the more bitter tasting. So bitter, in fact, that when Richard was captured on his way home from a crusade, John hesitated to offer up the £60,000 ransom to his Richard’s captor, Leopold of Austria. To put this in perspective, in the year 1900 £60,000 is equal to over £6 MILLION today, which translates to 9.5 million American dollars. That’s a hundred thousand times greater in just over a century. If we do the math right (I’m scared) and consider that Richard was captured in 1192, 821 years ago, Leopold basically asked John for a ransom of more than£48,000,000,000, or $76,320,000,000 for his own flesh and blood. That’s a lot of dough so I understand John’s hesitation, but I willing to bet there was more to the lack of his haste than financial stress.
For example, their father, King Henry, left the throne to Richard, and all his land. None of it went to John. This inspired the unfortunate nickname of “John Lackland.” He may not have fought well in battle, but John certainly stuck it to his elder brother when he needed him. Holy mother of bitter.
There was good to come of these brothers’ reign. After Richard died in battle, John took over the throne and signed the Magna Carta, which would make it law that the King would be subject to the law, rather than the other way around. It was the beginning of legally obligating a ruler to accept that his rule as such was not arbitrary. Good thing, too. Who wouldn’t want that under a King with a knack for holding a grudge?